COMMERCE CITY, CO - AUGUST 20: Kosuke Kimura #27 of the Colorado Rapids tries to head the ball to a teammate in front of Juan Pablo Angel #9 of Chivas USA during their game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park August 20, 2011 in Commerce City, Colorado. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
Ahead of the Colorado Rapids match against Chivas USA this weekend, Alicia from our excellent Chivas USA blog The Goat Parade and I exchanged a few questions about each others teams as we do. Good insight as usual about the opposition.
If you want to see the questions that Alicia asked me about the Rapids, head over to The Goat Parade's article on this and check it out. As usual, first question is before the jump and then the next couple are after it.
BW: Speaking of new coaches, I've said before that I loved the Robin Frasier hire for Chivas. After a year of getting everything together, how has he progressed with the team since taking the Goats' helm?
tGP: I think Fraser has had mixed progress so far, but it looks more positive overall. He didn't have a full offseason to prepare after being hired before the 2011 season, and there was considerable roster turnover. But after a poor finish last season, there was another wholesale clean out, and more than half the roster this season is new. The good news is that it looks like quite a few of those new players are coming good. In particular, Oswaldo Minda has been a key addition at defensive midfielder, and his Ecuadorean compatriot, Miller Bolanos, has looked very sharp the last couple of games on the wing. James Riley has been added to the defense, and his ability to get up the field gives opponents another player to worry about on the attack, and center back Rauwshan McKenzie has finally landed with an MLS club willing to give him minutes, and he has impressed.
I think this team looks better in the earlygoing in 2012 under Fraser, and a tough schedule and some unlucky breaks have prevented them from getting points at home. This is a big year for Fraser, but if they make the playoffs this season, it will be a successful year. If they falter at the end again, his future with the club might be in doubt.
BW: Chivas is undefeated on the road with no wins at home, a decent number of games into the season too. Is there a particular reason the Goats are taking it to their road opponents but can't win at HDC?
tGP: The bizarro road/home form so far this season is the biggest mystery for Chivas. They have looked like two completely different teams, frankly, with the home side playing good defense but the attack unable to get any traction, and the road side playing confident and assured team soccer. The easy answer that people who don't follow the team give is that Chivas obviously don't draw enough fans to home games, but except for the match against Vancouver when heavy rain kept most fans away (I know, but Southern Californians are wimpy like that), the attendance has been similar to past seasons. Alejandro Moreno kicked up a bit of a controversy a few weeks back when he was quoted as saying the team needed more fan support at home, but my position on the matter is that it is hard to bring new fans into the fold unless a team can actually win on a regular basis.
Sooner or later, this all-or-nothing split is going to end. I was really hoping they would beat the Philadelphia Union last week at home to end the winless (and scoreless) streak, but the Union had exactly one good attacking play on the night, and spent the rest of the match beating Chivas up. But Chivas could not overcome Philly's tactics, and they need to figure something out fast. In the meantime, I think having too much confidence heading into road matches is dangerous, and eventually they will get beaten away. Overall, I just hope the positive form overcomes the negative very soon.
BW: Other than Dan Kennedy, who has been the biggest name for Chivas so far this season?
tGP: Yes, Kennedy is huge to the team. I would also say Minda has been key in Chivas' improvement so far this season. He scored the winner against Toronto FC a couple weeks back, but he's not going to contribute to the offense regularly. He's a ballwinner, and his playing style is quite physical, which Chivas needed. I think he is the kind of player that will bother opponents, which is good, but he'll probably get a red card at some point. So far, he's been playing smart, and he could be a fixture in the lineup for years to come.
Another important player so far has been Ryan Smith. He was acquired from Sporting Kansas City in the offseason, and while his departure from SKC was controversial, he was dealing with family matters in England, so it seemed he had bigger issues on his mind than soccer. But the personal matters have been dealt with, and he's been a very important player for Chivas. He hasn't scored yet this season, although he seems good for at least a few goals, but he set up both goals in Chivas' comeback win at Portland. His speed, crossing ability, and ability to dribble at defenders is something Chivas were lacking last season, and he looks to be another savvy acquisition in the offseason by Fraser and company.
BW: Same as yours, expectations for the match?
tGP: I feel like a draw is likely for this match. Although picking up another road win would be great, I think a draw is a better result than a loss, obviously. Both teams look to be finding their rhythm, and I think it will be a close match. Maybe both teams will get their first draw of the season Saturday.
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